“Would some people be crazy enough to throw sand to the sky and take pictures until something happen(s)?” This is the question asked of Aries Mond concerning cover artist Claire Droppert, who tags the image, “creatures are born in frozen moments of weightlessness.” The same holds true for Gaps and Shortcuts, which does contain animals, but has the tone of ideas thrown about until they make sense.
This is most apparent on “Snow and Fire,” the “cat track” ~ a piece that has no right to exist, yet does. The sonic fingerprint screams reel-to-reel, an older format from which sounds might be carefully excised, piece by piece, spliced or erased in laborious fashion until a new pattern was revealed. A woman’s double exhalation and beep establish a tempo, soon joined by other sounds, not all repeating: a high-pitched “ooh,” a creak, the lighting of a match, and a cat following its own rules, not repeating itself like the humans. The feline takes control, despite the presence of traffic and conversation in the background. In another sample, the cat seems to walk on a piano, tempo be damned. Then footsteps on snow, befitting the title. Silence falls and the piece seems to end. Then the oddest thing happens: more breathing and walking in a warmer scene.
This combination of field recordings and samples ~ some repeating, others not ~ is beguiling. Whenever it takes place, the listener leans forward. “Water and Wood” is the obvious corollary, the lapping of waves set against cold weather creaks, interrupted dialogue, a heartbeat and breath, the human voice a choir of a percussion. Again, the lighting of a match, the chirp of birds; this pair would make a perfect 45. “Tame” offers gentle playing atop domestic sounds: a person out for a walk on a lovely spring day. This peaceful patina is matched in “Shortcuts,” the album closer.
Not all the tracks are like these; others concentrate more on music than sample or snippet, lending melody to the project. All appeal in their own way, but the strangest pieces are the draw: surprises that arise when sound samples are thrown in the air like sand. (Richard Allen)